Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Enchanted! Leprechaun In Late Winter by Mary Pope Osborne

"Inspire her? What does that mean?" asked Jack.

"'Tis a beautiful word," said Kathleen, her sea-blue eyes sparkling. "It means to breathe life into a person's heart, to make her feel joyful to be alive."

Book #43 of her best-selling Magic Tree House series, Mary Pope Osborne's Magic Tree House #43: Leprechaun in Late Winter (A Stepping Stone Book(TM), finds Jack and Annie once more on a Merlin Mission, in which, counselled by magical assistants Teddy and Kathleen, the two are dispatched to convince young artists, as yet unaware of their unique powers, to use their blessed gifts to bring joy to the world. Having restored the petulant young Mozart's joy in his music and revealed his destiny to the ragtag delivery boy Louis Armstrong, Annie and Jack now find themselves in the Ireland of 1862, equipped only with a magic whistle and the charge to convince an unhappy young girl that she has much to give to the cultural life of Ireland.

When the two time travelers climb down from their magic tree house, they find themselves knocking on the door of a "Big House," where the landed gentry live in far greater comfort than their impoverished Irish neighbors. There, the young Augusta is unhappy with the dull prospects of a lady of the rural nobility and is devoting her energy to helping the poor. Although she loves the Irish tales of fairies and leprechauns than her Irish nursemaid Mary Sheridan had told her as a child, the rational teenager despairs of ever seeing "the Shee," the wee legendary folk of Ireland, and finds the limited role of a proper young lady of her station totally uninspiring.

Enter Jack and Annie, armed with only Merlin's magical instrument, transformed into a silver pipe which Annie plays while Jack improvises a song that gives Augusta the power to see and speak with the Shee. Taken by the fairy folk to their secret redoubt, young Augusta suddenly learns her own mission from their Queen:

"I am Queen Aine of the Shee. This boy said you love stories--and that you remember every word. Is this true?"

Augusta nodded.

"Go home now with your friends, human child." said the Fairy Queen. "Go back for our sake. Seek out the old story-tellers and ask them to tell you the tales of my people. Learn the old language. Read the old manuscripts. Write our stories down and share them before they are lost completely."

Inspired and energized by what she has seen with Jack and Annie, Augusta goes on to become Lady Augusta Gregory, founder, with poet William Butler Yeats, of the Irish National Theatre, and famed conservator of Celtic language and literature.

As always, Osborne pairs her latest in the series with its own Magic Tree House Research Guide #21: Leprechauns and Irish Folklore: A Nonfiction Companion to Leprechaun in Late Winter (A Stepping Stone Book(TM)), written by the author and her sister Natalie Pope Boyce for the use of teachers and parents in broadening the educational use of these time-travel adventures in the exploration of historical and cultural correlations. While there are many exciting, well-written fantasies out there, few combine the love of human history with appealing adventures for the early elementary reader as well as do the marvelous and varied Magic Tree House books.

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  • Sounds like a facination series. As a published author of a fantasy trilogy, I welcome you to check out my latest book, The Magic of Fuller, book one, "Keeper of the Stone".

    By Anonymous Will Mallette, at 8:34 PM  

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